Martial arts as something other than fighting

Whenever you mention martial arts or kung fu to someone it is often associated with fighting or some form of physical combat, which isn’t wrong, but for me it is much more than this.

From my understanding, martial arts or kung fu was originally created as another form of cultivating a clearer and calmer mindset along with a healthier and more physically able body, in the same kind of way as yoga would. It was focused much more on getting the internal (Yin) and external (Yang) energy to work in harmony with one another. And also a way of developing the spirit and the mind.

Many Martial arts styles these days have strict ‘forms’ or ‘kata’. But the problem I have with this in my own experience is in that word ‘form’. Which implies that it has a limitation or a boundary. I was inspired from a very young age by Bruce Lee and always wondered what he meant when he said ‘be formless’, the more I study this the more I understand it. If we restrict ourselves to follow a set routine or ‘form’ then we are not truly expressing ourselves and therefore will not know what we are fully capable of.

Martial arts is about learning and understanding. Through martial arts we can learn how to move our bodies, to feel and understand them. We can learn how our energy flows and how we can direct it through our intention (Yi) and also use it to raise our spirit (Shen) and be at peace. When training with a partner we can also learn how they’re bodies work in connection with yours and feel their flow of energy and learn how to work with it. I feel martial arts can be incorporated into everything that we do, from doing chores around the house to simply walking or even just being still.

When we fully know how to express ourselves then we can truly find out what we are capable of.